Linnea Smiley

Academic Tutor


I am a born and raised Palo Alto native. I spent every one of my K-12 years in the PAUSD district and attended Gunn High School. When I graduated, I attended college all the way in Massachusetts at Wheaton College where I majored in neuroscience and worked hard to graduate magna cum laude. During my time in college I also spent a year studying abroad in Japan at Waseda University in Tokyo.

I love learning, it is honestly one of my greater passions and the sciences have been the subject of that passion since I was a child. I know many students are automatically apprehensive about STEM classes, believing these topics are inaccessible to them, and I want to change that. High school is a critical time where students can learn to dread STEM materials or love them. My AP Biology teacher at Gunn lead me to become fascinated with biology and subsequently fueled my decision to major in neuroscience. I want to foster not only a confidence in students regarding math and science, but genuine interest in these subjects as well. From my own personal experience I know that one good teacher can completely change your mind about a topic.

Fostering a love of learning in others has always been one of the important things in my life. Because of this love of learning, I spent my time in college tutoring both my peers and my friends and organizing and running study groups. I participated in a literacy intervention program for struggling students here in Palo Alto while I was in high school and worked with many ESL students and students with learning disabilities. In college I continued to work with my peers, including students with hearing and visual disabilities or impairments and learning disabilities. In every case I worked hard with my peer to ensure not only their success, but also a true understanding of the material.

Being a former student of Gunn, I understand the high demands local schools as well as the pressure students experience, including that pressure which we often place upon ourselves. I aim to help students who are struggling with the same issues I myself have dealt with and to empower students’ confidence in their own skills. I particularly enjoy helping students with the barriers many face when it comes to translating the contents of homework to the tests they take, both in class and for college applications.

My teaching philosophy is centered on adapting to each student’s needs. Every student thinks differently, and each student has different ways of learning. Having grown up with a learning disability myself, I struggled in school during my elementary years until I taught myself different strategies to both cope with my disability and to excel. Because of these hurdles, I understand how much a simple note-taking system can help a student improve drastically and finding that particular method for each student and altering my methods to suit their needs is the first key to teaching.

When I’m not working I enjoy researching random topics that pique my interest in a conversation (which range from the history of roller coasters to the Japanese common toad). I also love playing board games, video games, and training my young Keeshond in agility with jumps and weave poles that I build myself.

Subjects Tutored

Academic Chemistry
Academic Biology
AP Chemistry
AP Biology

Offices Served

Happy parents and students

 My grades have improved and I feel better and more confident when going into class.  Read what others are saying

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